I have an uncle that deals with ongoing back pain, he refers to ibuprofen as vitamin I because it’s just as much of a daily supplement as any other vitamins. I think he wrote a poem once about how pain is a good thing, because it lets you know that you’re still alive. Without pain, you could be dead, and while the life after may seem more appealing at times, this life still has it’s perks.
As a teenager I went through some rough patches, like anyone else, but I’d often feel discouraged, like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I put in work for school, but graduation felt far away and really only meant more homework in college. I discovered that I could release my anxieties by going running. I didn’t go running very often because I didn’t feel like I had time, but when I went I pushed myself hard. I’d run three miles and when I woke up the next morning I’d be sore, and I’d love it.
For some reason being sore made me feel like I had done something. Submitting homework assignments didn’t give the same kind of satisfaction, especially when it meant you just had another one to complete. When my muscles would ache as a walked, stood up, and sat down, I’d be reminded that I did something, and it was a good thing.
The last week has been a rainy one, and I generally enjoy the smell, the sound, and the water the rain brings, but I’ve never been a fan of the mud. I went on a walk the other day with my mom, cousins, and an aunt and uncle. At the beginning of the walk it was a little cool but there wasn’t any rain, but by the end of the walk it was raining. I didn’t have waterproof shoes and at some point in the middle of the walk I wasn’t enjoying it very well. My feet were wet and cold and I was ready to get home, though there was still a good while left to get back.
I love walks and I love the rain, but I wasn’t enjoying either quite like I’d have liked to at that point. My cousins were looking at flowers or mushrooms they found and I was wanting to walk faster. But one of my cousins took a picture that reminded me what I was denying myself. One of the best things about rain is that it enhances color, I hadn’t even been looking at the scenery the rain was painting for me. I especially didn’t think about it as we were walking through the cemetery.
The change of perspective helped me find the good in other things as well. I mentioned that I hate the mud, and I try to avoid it as much as I can. But I do realize there are moments when it can be fun. This week I discovered that I enjoyed it a little because it’s a pretty satisfying thing to sweep the floor or vacuum and see how much of a difference you are making. When people have trailed dried mud and leaves into the house, you can at least get a definite feeling that you did something as you sweep.
The unenjoyable things emphasize the good things, there’s a stark contrast that allows you to really enjoy what’s beautiful and good. You don’t have to love pain or dirt, but learning to see what it means is a good skill to have.